A baby cow that’s too big to be nursing looks a bit silly bending down for a drink from its mother. Ironically, however, more than half of the humans who would laugh at the grown-up calf would also go home and guzzle a glass of milk.
What is so bad about that? Human beings are the only mammals known to still rely on breast milk into their adult years. Even worse is the fact that we use the breast milk of a variety of other mammals to satisfy this whim.
This means that we are forcing our bodies to consume breast milk “across species” and that we are doing so when we no longer need such a fattening food source.
Admittedly, we should not be too harsh on our ancestors who decided to use or drink milk. For them, it seemed like an obvious choice.
For one thing, milk and cheese can be quite tasty. Dairy products are also a good source of vitamin D and calcium.
Research indicates that milk drinking probably started among domestic livestock farmers in central Europe some 7,500 years ago. It seems that having milk as a food source helped early humans leave the hunting and gathering lifestyle and settle down into organized communities .
The practice arose independently in other parts of the world, too. By the time Marco Polo journeyed to the Far East in the late 13thcentury, he found the Mongolians using powdered milk.
Dairy consumption, however, is all a bit of an accident and mistake. Why? Because our ancestors’ internal organs were not capable of digesting milk properly.
In fact, some studies have shown that only certain regional groups of humans were able (through good old natural selection) to develop the ability to produce lactase , the enzyme required for digestion of the “milk sugar” known as lactose.
Those of us who suffer from lactose intolerance can trace our roots back to ancestors were not among such groups. The condition called “lactase persistence” applies mostly to Europeans, and the majority of the world’s adults today simply cannot produce adequate lactase for dairy digestion.
Forcing the body to ingest milk leads to irritation of the digestive system, allergic reactions that produce mucous, and even an inability to absorb other nutrients from healthier food sources.
What’s more, today’s mass production techniques include injecting cows with recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), which poses health risks to both humans and animals.
From a Paleo diet point of view, it is best to undo this ancient accident and avoid milk and dairy. For many, that’s the path that leads to optimal digestive health.
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